Obsessions inspire short story writer

JaimeeWristonColbert

"Author Jaimee Wriston Colbert came to Oswego State’s Living Writers Series class on Wednesday to talk about her writing process and her career.

"Colbert is a writing professor at SUNY Binghamton and wrote three short story collections and one novel. Her short story collections, including "Dream Lives of Butterflies," contain intersecting characters that show up in multiple stories that all take place in St. Louis, Mo.

"Born and raised in Hawaii, Colbert said her childhood love of reading was what led her to become a writer.

""I was a gawky, awkward, very shy child, and books were…a place of safety for me," she said.

"She started writing poems in high school, which she then pursued further in college. But she was discouraged from continuing poetry in graduate school, which led her to write fiction, saying her childhood gift for telling stories inspired her to move in that direction.

"Colbert explained her writing process and talked about how problematic a writer’s first draft is, and that they have to use them to develop their craft.

""My process is…I’m gonna suck for the first five drafts, and then after that, I’m gonna suck a little less," she said.

"Colbert said she doesn’t look at the computer screen when she begins a new story, she only looks at her hands typing. She felt the most important aspect of the writing process is revision because "the original creative process is messy," and that writers need to revise their work in order to find their original vision.

"Colbert said the inspiration for "Dream Lives of Butterflies" came when she was working in St. Louis and noticed the neighborhood outside her window had criss-crossing paths. She began watching the people crossing the paths and wondered what would happen if these random strangers actually met each other, and if their stories began to intersect. She began writing short stories and they developed into what she called a "novelistic arc" that connected the characters.

"At the end of the lecture, Colbert said inspiration can come from a writer’s personal obsessions.

""If you allow yourself to go to a deeper place…it will be the things that you obsess over and haunt you that will come out in the work," she said.